Next year the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the US-based non-profit tasked by the US government to oversee the global domain name system, will approve and assign new generic top level domain names and strings (gTLDs) from 22 to perhaps 1400 possibilities.
This change will enable greater choice for people, companies and organisations wanting to get online or expand their internet presence. It also means new brands, new marketing tools, new jobs and new ways to link communities and to share information.
Businesses will no longer be restricted to .co.nz, .com or the more specialised domains of .net or .org. Instead, they’ll be able to put their brand name in front of strings like .web, .shop, or .ad.
While this is an exciting prospect, there is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion. This isn't helped by a number of marketing ploys by domain name companies offering pre-registration and the chance to secure a name.
The Trademark Clearing House is the only place to secure your brand during the sunrise phases which will be taking place over the next two to three years.
ICANN still has long way to go before all the new gTLD strings are assigned to the registration companies and then released to market; and many of the most popular gTLDs are being hotly contested.
Think about your brand trademarks and patent certifications and the gTLDs you like. (You can view a full list of the proposed new domains here.)
Make sure the paperwork is in order to ensure your brand's representation on the gTLDs you want. Then engage with a respected IP law firm to assist with the Trademark Clearing House process.
This seems like a complicated and expensive exercise, but think how great it would've been to get the .com name you wanted when they were first released. It wouldn't come cheap now.
It's a given that the internet and technology will change over the next ten years in ways we can only speculate on. But it's certain that a sound portfolio of gTLDs representing your business interests is prudent for the future of your brands.
- Tim Newman is a digital and search engine marketing professional. He has worked with well known brands in telecommunications, energy, non-profit, information technology and business to business and blogs at hotmix.co.nz.